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OPSEU/SEFPO renews demand that LCBOs reopen on Mondays

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In yet another letter to the Ford government, OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas has renewed the union’s longstanding demand that LCBO stores re-open on Mondays.

“When the Premier first announced in March that LCBO outlets would be closed to the public to allow staff to undertake enhanced cleaning, OPSEU/SEFPO members stood behind the decision in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” wrote Thomas in a letter to Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy.

“But since March 30, 2020, LCBO management has refused to schedule staff on Mondays for cleaning. Therefore, there is no good reason to continue limiting openings to six days.”

Thomas said the ongoing Monday closures are hurting LCBO workers and making their stores less safe.

“We have been making these arguments for months,” Thomas wrote. “We have made these arguments to LCBO management, we have made them publicly in the media, and we have made them in letters and phone conversations with a variety of government officials, including your predecessor as the Minister of Finance.

“We are growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of action. I sincerely hope that as the new Minister of Finance, you will prioritize the health and safety of my members and the communities they serve and direct LCBO management to reopen on Mondays as soon as possible.”

Here’s the full text of the letter:

February 4, 2021

Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy
Minister of Finance
Frost Building South
7th Floor
7 Queen’s Park Cres.
Toronto, ON
M7A 1Y7
peter.bethlenfalvy@pc.ola.org
Minister.fin@ontario.ca

Dear Minister Bethlenfalvy:

I am writing to urge your government to heed the calls my union and I have been making for months to have LCBOs reopen for regular business on Mondays.

The 13,000 OPSEU/SEFPO members who work on the front lines at the LCBO were declared essential early in the pandemic, a clear acknowledgment of the vital role they play in the health of our province and the stability of our health care system.

They truly stand among the tens of thousands of front-line heroes protecting us during this pandemic.

But the continued failure of LCBO management to reopen LCBO outlets on Mondays shows a profound lack of respect that hurts our members and puts customers and communities at needless extra risk of COVID-19 infection.

When the Premier first announced in March that LCBO outlets would be closed to the public to allow staff to undertake enhanced cleaning, OPSEU/SEFPO members stood behind the decision in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

But since March 30, 2020, LCBO management has refused to schedule staff on Mondays for cleaning.

Therefore, there is no good reason to continue limiting openings to six days.

Closing Mondays means that the LCBO’s front-line workers must do their work in less time and face more frequent customer rushes, making it harder for them to rigorously observe the safety and cleaning protocols.

Closing Mondays also gives private retailers an unfair leg up. Sales lost to the private sector weaken the LCBO and lower the annual dividend the LCBO provides the province to invest in public services – investment that is more vital now than ever.

Returning the LCBO to seven open days per week not only levels the playing field but also addresses legitimate health and safety concerns of my members by giving them the time and space they need to do their essential work as safely as possible.

We have been making these arguments for months. We have made these arguments to LCBO management, we have made them publicly in the media, and we have made them in letters and phone conversations with a variety of government officials, including your predecessor as the Minister of Finance.

We are growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of action. I sincerely hope that as the new Minister of Finance, you will prioritize the health and safety of my members and the communities they serve and direct LCBO management to reopen on Mondays as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, OPSEU/SEFPO